Another month, another festival in Houston as JMBLYA sets up shop on Sunday, May 6. Not that we’re complaining — it’s one of the few hip-hop focused festivals to take place in Space City, a town that loves its rap music. For those not inclined to that persuasion of the musical spectrum, there's a nice mix of other acts to see in the week ahead. Here’s a few of our favorites:
Ska and Cinco
What’s better than Cinco de Mayo? Having it fall on a Saturday. The underdog Mexican army’s win over the French Emoire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, has become a great excuse to party, eat tacos, and drink copious amounts of cerveza. This year, Market Square will host its very own Cinco de Mayo Kickoff Party, complete with a performance by local act Los Skarnales, 20-year vets who combine ska, cumbia, reggae ,and punk into one spicy mix.
Los Skarnales performs at the Cinco de Mayo Kickoff Party at Market Square, located at 301 Milam St. on Saturday, May 5. Free admission. The event starts at 5 pm.
Hip-hop at the horse track
JMBLYA, one of the best touring festivals centering on hip-hop follows stops in Dallas and Austin with a date in Houston, setting up on the grounds of Sam Houston Race Park. The lineup is a who’s-who in the game right now, headlined by J. Cole, who owns the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts with his new album, KOD, his fifth album to make that mark. Unfortunately, a pregnant Cardi B canceled her appearance, but Atlanta’s Young Thug stepped in to fill the void. Other performers include Migos; a recently released from prison Kevin Gates; Playboi Carti; and CultureMap cohort, Bun B.
JMBLYA will go down at Sam Houston Race Park, located at 7575 North Sam Houston Pkwy. West, on Sunday, May 6. Tickets start at $89 plus fees. Gates open at 1 pm.
The fantastic Foxes
Seattle indie folk band Fleet Foxes bring soaring, lyrical tunes to Revention Music Center. They resemble fellow Seattle act Band of Horses if they listened to way more Bob Dylan and had an obsession with vocal harmonies. They’ve quietly amassed a large fanbase over the course of three albums, including 2017’s acclaimed Crack-Up.
Fleet Foxes perform at Revention Music Center, 520 Texas St., on Monday, May 7. Amen Dunes opens. Tickets start at $35 plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Anyone who has seen an iPhone commercial lately will have heard Sofi Tukker, a New York City-based electro-rock duo that has scored a place in the pantheon of emerging — usually great — artists to have their song used to sell electronics. Comprised of singer/guitarist Sophie Hawley-Weld and producer Tucker Halpern, two of their songs have appeared in iPhone commercials, and they are both electro-house, guitar-laced, dancefloor bangers, “Bats**t” and “Best Friend.” Check out Tucker’s protégé, LP Giobbi, who will open and has been making waves on the NYC scene.
Sofi Tukker perform at White Oak Music Hall – Upstairs, located at 2915 N. Main St. on Monday, May 7. Kah-Lo and LP Giobbi open. Tickets start at $16 in advance plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
Take me out...to White Oak
Out of the class of U.K. guitar bands to break in the early aughts (The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party et. al.), Franz Ferdinand proved to be the true survivors, having produced five good-to-great albums of danceable indie-rock. While no hit made as much impact as 2004’s chugging earworm, “Take Me Out,” the Scottish five-piece always manages to produce a few killer singles per record, which equates to a fantastic live show, led by the charismatic Alex Kapranos. The latest album, Always Ascending, takes the dance-inflected tunes even further, incorporating disco and synths. This is a must-see show for anyone who's regularly read the NME. Stay tuned this week to CultureMap for an interview with Franz bassist Bob Hardy.
Franz Ferdinand bring their unique brand of disco-fied Brit-pop to White Oak Music Hall, located at 2915 N. Main St., on Tuesday, May 8. Acclaimed indie act Priests opens. Tickets start at $31 in advance plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.
A.M. radio legend at Redneck
Practically a god in his native Canada, Gordon Lightfoot is still playing his inimitable catalog of expertly crafted pop-folk-country tunes that made him an international star in the ’60s and ’70s. Simply put, the guy has a ton of fantastic songs and is a master storyteller, evidenced on the hooky “Sundown,” the heartbreaking “If You Could Read My Mind,” and the vivid “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” among many others. The fact that he’s creeping in on 80 years old means that music fans need to take the time to appreciate a guy that dominated A.M. airwaves for decades and influenced a wide-range of superstar musicians, including Jimmy Buffet, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton.
The ageless Gordon Lightfoot performs at the Redneck Country Club, located at 1110 W. Airport Blvd., on Wednesday, May 9. Tickets start at $60 plus fees. Doors open at 6 pm. Show starts at 8:30 pm.
Swingin’ in the Heights
Ah, the ’90s. Audiences, sick of the watered-down grunge that dominated airwaves in the latter half of the decade, turned to seemingly dead genres to liven things up. Following a short resurgence of ska bands, swing-influenced bands exploded in full force — see 1996’s Jon Favreau flick Swingers as its definitive watermark — and no other band benefited more than Squirrel Nut Zippers. Not to be confused with the gross-named Cherry Poppin’ Daddies or Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Zippers hit it big with the 1930s throwback, “Hell,” from the aptly named Hot, an album that sold over a million copies — a record kids and grandparents alike could seemingly enjoy together. (It was a very strange time in pop culture.) Dust off the dance shoes, chum, and relive your youth for what’s sure to be a fun performance.
Squirrel Nut Zippers brings the swing to the Heights Theater, located at 339 W. 19th St., Thursday, May 10. Ginny Mac opens. Tickets start at $24 in advance plus fees. Doors open at 7 pm.